A California federal district court recently granted a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) against a former employee for misappropriating proprietary and confidential information in violation of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”), the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”), and company confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements. Bemis Co., Inc. v. Summers, No. 219CV00344TLNKJN, 2019 WL 1004853, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 28, 2019).

Background

Plaintiff Bemis Company, Inc. (“Bemis”) sued a former employee for trade secret misappropriation and breach of contract. Bemis is one of the largest global suppliers of flexible and rigid packaging products, including snack food bags, candy wrappers, cheese packaging, hot dog packaging, medicine packaging, and much more.
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Seyfarth Synopsis: The New Jersey Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 121 affecting claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, which if signed into law, would render any prospective waiver of rights against public policy, including pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements. In addition, non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements involving these  claims would be unenforceable against employees. 

On January 31, 2019, the New Jersey Legislature passed Senate Bill 121, which would prohibit employers from enforcing, among other things, mandatory pre-dispute arbitration and non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements for claims of discrimination, retaliation, and harassment.  The bill seemingly does not affect existing waivers or non-disclosure agreements (“NDAs”).  Governor Phil Murphy has not commented publicly as to whether he will sign the bill into law.  If signed, the breadth of this law would surpass any similar law in the country.


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Throughout 2018, Seyfarth Shaw’s dedicated Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Competes Practice Group hosted a series of CLE webinars that addressed significant issues facing clients today in this important and ever-changing area of law. The series consisted of seven webinars:

  1. 2017 National Year in Review: What You Need to Know About the Recent Cases/Developments in Trade Secrets, Non-Compete and Computer Fraud Law
  2. Protecting Confidential Information and Client Relationships in the Financial Services Industry
  3. The Anatomy of a Trade Secret Audit
  4. Protecting Trade Secrets from Cyber and Other Threats
  5. 2018 Massachusetts Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Reform
  6. Protecting Trade Secrets Abroad and Enforcing Rights Abroad and in the U.S.
  7. Criminal Trade Secret Theft: What You Need to Know

As a conclusion to this well-received 2018 webinar series, we compiled a list of key takeaway points for each program, which are listed below. For those clients who missed any of the programs in this year’s series, recordings of the webinars are available on the blog, or you may click on the title of each available webinar below for the online recording. Seyfarth Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Compete attorneys are happy to discuss presenting similar presentations to your company for CLE credit. Seyfarth will continue its trade secrets webinar programming in 2019, and we will release the 2019 trade secrets webinar series topics in the coming weeks.
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  1. Have trade secret protections. Built into the definition of a trade secret is the requirement to have reasonable secrecy measures. Companies that do not use non-disclosure agreements with their employees can be at a tremendous disadvantage if they decide to litigate against former employees for trade secret misappropriation. Well thought out policies, procedures, and agreements

On Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern, Seyfarth Partner and Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Compete Practice Group Co-Chair Robert Milligan is presenting a Strafford live webinar. The “Drafting Enforceable Non-compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements: Compliance with New State Statutes and Case Law” webinar panel will discuss recent legislative and case law

In Seyfarth’s sixth installment in its 2018 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys Daniel Hart, Marjorie Culver, Alex Meier, and Paul Yovanic Jr. focused on how to identify the greatest threats to trade secrets, tips and best practices for protecting trade secrets abroad, and enforcement mechanisms and remedies.

As a conclusion to this well-received webinar,

As a special feature of our blog—guest postings by experts, clients, and other professionals—please enjoy this blog entry from Donal O’Connell, Managing Director of Chawton Innovation Services Ltd.

Managing trade secrets belonging to Third Parties:

At first glance, you may be somewhat perplexed by the title. When and why should a company be concerned about managing trade secrets belonging to some 3rd party? It is tough enough for most companies to properly and professionally manage their own trade secrets, not to mind worrying about the trade secrets belonging to others. However, more and more, companies are indeed facing the challenge of having to manage trade secrets belonging to others. Allow me to explain.
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The Texas Court of Appeals, Third District, issued an opinion in Tejas Vending, LP, et al. v. Tejas Promotions, LLC further delineating the applicability of Texas’s anti-SLAPP statute, the Texas Citizens Participation Act (“TCPA”). The Court emphasized that the TCPA was applicable to a conspiracy to misappropriate trade secrets claim, but found that it did not apply to requests for declaratory relief. This holding serves as a reminder that anti-SLAPP statutes can be a powerful shield in misappropriation of trade secret cases, particularly when such cases involve claims for an alleged conspiracy.
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Earlier this month, the Texarkana Court of Appeals took the extraordinary measure of affirming an award of plaintiff attorney’s fees against a defendant for willful and malicious misappropriation of trade secrets in an amount that was ultimately more than 50 times higher than the plaintiff’s actual awarded damages.

Samuel D. Orbison worked for an oil and gas company, Ma-Tex Rope Company, Inc., for five years and signed an employment agreement containing a non-competition agreement, a non-disclosure agreement, and a non-solicitation agreement. During his tenure with Ma-Tex, Orbison became the coordinator of Ma-Tex’s recertification department until he resigned and began working for its competitor, American Pipe Inspections, Inc. (API), in the same position he had filled with Ma-Tex. When Ma-Tex learned that Orbison had begun soliciting recertification work from Ma-Tex’s customers, it sued Orbison and API for, among other claims, breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets.
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Tervis Tumbler Company, the maker of the infamous insulated tumblers, has found itself in hot water with a former supplier, Trinity Graphic. Trinity filed suit in the Middle District of Florida against Tervis and its new supplier, Southern Graphics, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets under both the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) and Florida trade secret statute along with breach of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement, fraud, aiding and abetting, and civil conspiracy. Trinity seeks compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages, disgorgement of profits related to the misappropriation and attorney’s fees and costs.

In support of its claims, Trinity alleges that it “revolutionized” the creation of tumbler inserts with the development of its “Trinity Wrap.” Trinity further alleges that before it created the Trinity Wrap at Tervis’ request, Tervis was limited to the use of “crude and costly embroidery or flat one-sided images.” In creating the Trinity Wrap, Trinity purports to have developed two trade secrets: a printing method that reduces static electricity during the printing process, resulting in increased visual sharpness and a second printing method using a state of the art printer to perfectly align images printed on both sides of a transparent medium.
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